In cold, rainy and onshore conditions, South African surfing sensation Jordy Smith clinched his second consecutive Billabong Pro J’Bay title when he beat Australian Mick Fanning in a tense final held in testing 3 – 5 foot surf at Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay yesterday.
Smith, who looked in championship winning form ever since posting the highest scores of Round 1 last Friday, made full use of his many years of experience at Jeffreys Bay to tame the ‘victory at sea’ conditions and employed his exciting arsenal of progressive and aerial manoeuvres to rack up rides of 8.60 and 7.0 for a heat winning total of 15.60 out of 20 in the final.
“It’s been an incredible week for me,” Smith said. “All the support of the people at Jeffreys Bay, my girlfriend Lyndall (Jarvis), my mom and dad and everyone else. It’s been a really special week for me and I’m so happy right now.”
The 23 year old Durbanite who now lives in Cape Town pocketed US $75 000 for the victory and earned 10 000 priceless rankings points which moved him from fifth to second on the ASP World Title Race rankings behind Joel Parkinson (AUS), overtaking Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kelly Slater (USA) and Taj Burrow (AUS) in the process.
“Mick (Fanning) has surfed amazing all week,” Smith said. “He’s always an inspiration and he’s right there with everyone in the hunt for the title. Today’s a huge win for me. Last year it was very emotional. To back it up this year just feels really, really good. It’s huge for my confidence and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”
Fanning, a former two time World and J’Bay champion, led the final with an excellent 8.0 point ride early on and was briefly out in front again at the halfway point, but could not produce the 7.61 point ride he needed to overtake Smith once the South African had snatched the lead back with an innovative ‘double grab’ aerial with 12 minutes remaining.
The Australian, who takes home $30 000 and 8 000 points that sees him leapfrog from No. 8 to No. 4 on the rankings, was full of praise for Smith in his runners up speech, before showering the winner with champagne. He also echoed the feelings of all of the world’s best surfers when he wished the late Andy Irons, a former three-time ASP World Champion, a happy birthday and sent his greetings to Irons’ family in Hawaii.
Smith started the final day in rampant form, powering his way to convincing victories over experienced former double J’Bay runner up Damien Hobgood (USA) in the quarterfinals and then leaving Adrian Buchan (AUS) needing to replace both his scores to come within striking distance of winning their semi final match up.
With his equal third place finish here Joel Parkinson heads the rankings in the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title, but the perennial title contender remains cautious regarding the remainder of the season.
The 2011 Billabong Pro J’Bay will make the history books for Smith’s second consecutive win and the phenomenal standard of surfing on the penultimate day when a perfect 10 point ride and a number of other high flying and modernistic moves were performed and recorded in the planet’s premier high performance waves at Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay.
BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.60
2 – Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.83
BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY SEMI FINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.46 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.87
SF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.47 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.93
BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.10 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 8.94
QF 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.77 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.90
QF 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.83 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 8.16
QF 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.40 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 5.43
ASP WORLD TITLE TOP 10 (After Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay):
1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 25700 pts
2. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 24750 pts
3. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 22250 pts
4. Mick Fanning (AUS) 19500 pts
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 18250 pts
6. Kelly Slater (USA) 16950 pts
7. Michel Bourez (PYF) 16000
8. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15000
9. Josh Kerr (AUS) 13900 pts
9. Owen Wright (AUS) 13900 pts